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Sometimes it's time to part ways with a client… even when they're not ready for it. That's when you need to “fire” your client.

This video is all about how and when to do it…

Please leave a comment down below and let me know what you think…

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59 Replies to “How and When to Fire Clients”

  1. You obviously have a wise, sensible outlook Jeff – it is inevitable you will encounter folks you won’t mesh with. It is funny but some people think their money entitles them to treat you like their ‘hired help’, or they don’t listen even if they pay premium rates – they are out there!
    Great advice – and I love that veranda you shoot your videos on man…great views Colorado is it?

      • I saw the Zia tacos shirt. My wife’s family is in Durango and we always eat at Zia’s (and Texas BBQ) when we’re in town once or twice a year. I hope I bump into you on day! Keep up the great work!

        Taylor

    • Felicia Mareels

      Reply

      Wish I had had this information some time ago. Very good advice and encouragement to empower the choice of our service in the world
      Yeah!
      Thanks

    • How true Michael.
      I just had that experience last week with a client.
      I haven’t drooped them yet… But the handwriting is on the wall.

  2. Great video Jeff. I just had to part company with a client by conscious choice a couple of months ago. Best decision I could have made. Thanks for the great advice.

  3. I run coaching classes I personally teach maths and accounts to college students. Most of the students are very nice but some are very nasty. Last week two students were misbehaving with my staff also during lectures they were making noise and letting others study. I was reluctant to fire them because their future was involved at this time of point they may not get good classes. But for the sake of other students s refunded their money. But after watching your video I feel I did the correct thing thank you very much for making me guilt free

  4. Very true, Jeff! A couple of years ago I felt totally burned out and what had started as my dream business – creating made to measure flamenco dance costumes – was a constant source of stress. Reflecting on my situation I realized that I loved working with some clients and almost resented others. In order to keep loving my business I needed to work with my “favorite type of client” and I couldn’t do that as long as I kept accepting clients who, in one way or another, left me feeling stressed. So I started adding those clients to my virtual “black list”, which meant I finished any pending orders but decided not to accept new orders from them. It definitely was scary and it took me a long time to develop the guts to do it but it so paid off. It did free time for more of those favorite clients and, totally unexpectedly, it also changed some of my “black listed” clients, as if they’d sensed a new vibration coming from me which changed the way they are treating me. Sometimes I wish I had done this sooner but I guess I just had to be ready for it.
    Thanks a lot for all your videos, Jeff!

  5. Talk about absolutely spot-on relevant motivation Jeff. Thank you!
    This really hit home to me: “being an entrepreneur is all about protecting your confidence”.
    Hard to do when you feel desperate and precarious but vital to unlock your full potential.
    I have learned the hard way to say no to clients. Simply saying no to unreasonable demands and setting a boundary allowed me to protect and strengthen my confidence. This helped attract different clients which in turn altered existing relationships for the better.
    Firing a client is pretty extreme, I can see the merit but most times simply setting a confidence protection boundary is enough to radically improve the situation.

  6. Thank-you Jeff…

    Like my late Dad used to say…

    “Don’t confuse kindness with stupidity.”

    You get to give quality ‘NO’s,” so that you can give quality “YES’s.”

    Sometimes, a toxic client actually believe that they are the most important cog in the equation.

    And most often, when this actually does happen, we need to be forthright with ourselves,
    and call ourselves out, for either enabling that kind of behavior, or even worse, not having
    the backbone to say, to that client… “enough is enough!”

  7. Hi Jeff,
    I really appreciate this video.
    To be able to fire customer and focus on a much better customer can really help my business growing.

    I am into 80/20 principle. So sometime u have to let go 20% client that give you 80% trouble

  8. I run a small team of web designers and developers. I never have my team interact with clients. I filter everything so that they can remain focused. It’s too easy for us to get caught up with personalities.

    I try to never let emails get to me. It’s too easy to misinterpret a client’s tone. When in doubt, hop on a call. If it continues, remind them that they are under contract and that if they continue to be abusive they will end up paying for work done and have nothing to show.

    I’ve been doing this for almost 2 decades. The one thing that remain consistent is the lower the project cost, the better the chance of dealing with poor clients. Double your price and you’ll probably never have to fire a client.

    • I’m partnered with a Web designer who loves building things with code and algorithms but has little patience with humans–unless of course they are delightfully geeky. It’s my job to determine if a client who is becoming a squeaky wheel is truly impossible or just hasn’t been given clarity on what to expect. So far we haven’t had to fire any clients, although my partner has recommended it, because after hearing both sides, I’ve seen where we could have improved our procedures and communication.
      I do believe however, that you should be well paid for dealing with some folks, even as they educate you on how to improve your business.

  9. Beatrix Willius

    Reply

    Sometimes it’s a relief to give refunds. Still it’s depressing. I get these mails “I hate your software, it’s piece of cr…”. Thanks the gods this happens very seldom. As far as I remember I only had to offer to give a refund once or twice.

    • @Beatrix: I’ll tell you what… NO ONE like processing refunds. It nearly always feels like a rejection. That’s why it’s one of the very first things you need to get off your plate – in my opinion that’s the first thing you need to delegate.

  10. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks so much for this – I’m dealing with this issue for the first time in my business right now. I’ve been working with a client who is a no-show, cancels all the time in favour of other activities and is not committed to doing the work. Today’s the day I gotta tell her it’s not working out and what you said about ‘protecting your confidence’ is so right on because I can literally FEEL the spectre of rejection creeping up on me every time she cancels and I can’t be having that if I want myself and my business to thrive.

    Thanks for giving me the courage and validation to do what needs to be done. x

  11. Hi, Jeff! Awesome video!!!! Thank you SO MUCH for posting about this. I’ve fired clients before and it was difficult but SO WORTH IT!!

    P.S. Betty ROCKS!!

  12. Part of leadership is knowing when to part ways with a client or employee. It is never enjoyable, but as you’ve correctly stated, it is empowering. Thanks for your always great insights.

  13. Being an entrepreneur is all about protecting your confidence. I love that quote. Check out 10xtalk.com for more Dan… and Joe!

    On some of your videos… in between your talking, I listen and can hear the mountain breeze through the trees. Nothing like it. Lived in Red River, NM for some years and can’t wait to get back out West.

    I appreciate all the value you give. Thank you. Please say hello to Frank for me… because I love him as much as Brad Pitt! lol

  14. Where would I find a Betty? Or rather an inexpensive Betty-like angel of customer support? My last employee’s last day was yesterday and I was not looking forward to taking over customer service (because it is not my strong point).

    Thanks again for another awesome video!

  15. You’re dead right, Jeff. I’ve done it a few times myself but probably not as often as I should have done. Certainly is a liberating experience and the recipient usually looks stunned!

  16. So so so so true! Thanks for sharing this Jeff. I let a client continue a few years ago who then turned around stiffed me for over $103,000 in commission payments due. We were working with her for a below-costs retainer plus a cut of the backend. (Not recommended btw.) I had known for several months that she was a bad egg as she treated her team (and mine) poorly, was hypercritical, NEVER said thank you, was consistently disrespectful of other people’s time, and she was a prima donna and a whiner.

    One reason I did not let her go once I knew I should was I made the mistake of over investing in her business early on (below cost retainer ended up being WAY below cost) because I believed she had “potential.” She had potential alright – just not the kind that was very pleasant! If I had let her go when I knew I needed to, I would have gained all the things Jeff mentioned AND, I wouldn’t have been left with a 6-figure stiff. Lots of hard lessons learned on that one!

  17. I agree. If a person is sapping your mental and emotional energy, they must be released.
    I’ve done it a few times and the relief is palpable!
    It is so in all areas of life. We want to be around people that, when we leave, we feel good, confident looking forward to our next meeting instead of feeling sucked dry.
    You are, by the way, awesome!!

  18. I’m not sure that bringing on lots of different types of clients when we first start is always a matter of “desperation.” Finding that product through which we can become a hero may be a matter of trial and error – there may be value we think we can provide one way, but then discover we’re better at something else. Or we may be really good at doing something, but discover we hate doing it. As entrepreneurs, creating and delivering our own products is an evolutionary process. The only way to really know if we have a product we have the ability and resources to deliver, that we are good at and enjoy, is to DO IT with real clients. We we’re offering the “wrong” product and attracting the “wrong” client, that’s something those “wrong” clients can teach us. Does that make sense, Jeff?

  19. I agree with you Jeff. It is empowering even though it often comes with some sort of disappointment as why some people are like that (to the extent that you feel guilty firing them). But absolutely liberating. Thank you for the insight.

  20. Jeff,

    It’s often too easy to forget that any good business relation is based on equality – a fair exchange of goods or services for payment rendered. Sometimes the most difficult part of firing a client is facing the fact that we so reduced our standards in the first pace.

  21. Steffen Schmitt

    Reply

    Hi Jeff,
    thanks for this valuable piece of information! It’s a little bit unusual to see parting with a customer as a means of empowering your business but it’s far worse to have customers part with you. Maybe it’s a means of staying in control of the uncontrollable. Sometimes your best efforts won’t meet the needs of your customer and it leaves a permanent uneasy spot on your professional conscience to have your client fire you. Better learn your lesson as soon as possible.

  22. Love your awesome video(s), Jeff. Always great value. Thanks! I have had to fire clients. It is very freeing and always opens the way for clients that are a right fit to show up. The first time is the hardest. After that it just makes good sense.

  23. Having worked for consulting companies and having my own consulting company right now, I found this presentation refreshing and insightful. I agree that we should not drain the team energy and morale by being with the wrong “fit” with clients or those who obviously are not engaging with us collaboratively in the work. Better to admit that the project is not achieving the expecations of the parties and moving on without the blame game. It demonstrates effective use of resources, integrity and support. Diann

  24. love, love, love the ‘protecting your confidence’ comment. I teach my students that the only thing you really have is your reputation. this says the same thing, but comes at it from a different angle. when you are ‘new’ at getting clients to sign with you, this is the most perfect mind-set, or maybe this qualifies as a tool, to keep you rising in your business, decreases the potential for struggling your way to the top! thanks

  25. Great vídeo Jeff 🙂

    This is so true!

    I have fired 3 clientes in my 18 years of entrepreneur life. All in diferente stages, the first 2 were quit small, so it didn’t feel nothing, but the third was a mjor company for my business but everytime they would call or send mail they were always with a “whip” and my team was always underpressure and feeling very stressfull.
    Once I made the decision to fire this client, the team became more United and even some clientes realize that they were also privilegie to work with us 🙂
    Txs for sharing! See you in Durango!!!!! I hope you are full recovered!!!!
    Big hug!

  26. Hi Jeff
    Yes after more than 30 years of business I totally agree with you and then there are strange exception. One day I was in a fairly high powered meeting with a client. He was becoming over demanding in unrealistic projects. I had to say no toall his demands and finally took myself out of the meeting thinking I needed this client like a hole in the head so I defiately did not want any more to do with him. A week later his secretary called me and said he had fired his entire team and wanted me to manage the whole project exactly as I felt fit. He turned out to be an awsome man and someone I came to admire and respect enormously.

  27. Excellent advice, Jeff. I’ve fired a customer myself. I’d been wanting to get rid of him for some time. Then he gave me the chance.: he bounced a cheque. It was only $30 but his bank would be charging him $25 for doing it. So next time he rang I instantly tackled him with it. I said, “You bounced a cheque on me.” Uneasy silence. “I’ll forgive you the debt on one condition.” Uneasiness turned to eager greed, but I can’t remember what he said. I continued: “And that is that I never hear from you again.” A colleague whom he often brought with him approached me some time later wanting me to do a job for him. I had nothing against this fellow (I actually felt sorry for him) but decided I’d rather not do work with anyone associated with the client I’d fired.

  28. Hi jeff,

    Nice sunset in the video,

    btw it’s funny that you send this video this day, because it’s my day that shows me thar i might “just can’t fit in the corporate world”

    Anyway i’ll see if not matching the ” Non productive” corporate rules will lead into freedom!

  29. I have a client I have been doing therapy with for over 6 mos. I got this client from my boss who could not help her with any of her non-traditional methods of therapy. She sent her to me because of my work in abandonment experiences. She believed I could help her because the core issue seemed to be abandonment. This client can be a very caring person who shows some signs of love and compassion but after working with her I realized she is stuck in victimization, anger, resentment, hatred, blame and stuck in wanting someone to rescue her. She has been the worse listener I have ever encountered. While in a session she will repeatedly ask the same questions and have these moments of pretending she gets what I am helping her with. I’ve had several talks with her about her inability to absorb anything I’ve given her. She came in last week stating she talked to a psychic and had a breakthrough – this psychic told her the same thing I’ve said over the last 6mos. I brought this to her attention and she said ” Oh it just clicked this time”. This video is my confirmation about letting her go despite the rules of therapy that expects a therapist to be a martyr. I see the desperation I have allowed myself to be a part of. I’m letting her go. Thanks Jeff!

  30. Jeff, thank you so much for this video. You wouldn’t believe how perfect the timing is. I’m doing this today with one of our previously largest clients. I’ve been so nervous. But feel great and a lot more confident after getting this video 🙂 THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU 🙂

  31. Love It Love It.. Good Life Group..New Zealand Bay Of Plenty.. We Are In The Business Of Giving .. To This End i Derek C Howie Give You The Best I Know .. HeartMath + HUAWEI World Leaders In There Field .. Take Care out.

  32. This is spot-on in my experience, and I guide my clients with this when necessary too. The first time I “fired” a client I had to give them a portion of the money back … and it was STILL an incredibly powerful and empowering thing to do for myself personally and of course, for my biz!

  33. Great video and such a positive and empowering message; thank you. I recently turned down doing additional work with a client who would have drained my energy. Although I wanted the extra bucks, it wasn’t worth it. Doing this was a great decision – and I felt totally relieved!!!

    Firing a client is probably not what a new business would think to do, but it really makes sense if the person is negative, confidence-draining, or if we cannot give them what they need. As you were speaking, I had the mental picture of how a plant thrives and becomes much stronger after being pruned. Thanks very much for your message, Jeff; I think it’s MUCH needed.

    PS Where can I find the video where you talk about finding clients you want to be a hero to?

  34. Thanks Jeff!
    It’s always been empowering and liberating in my consulting practice of 14 years to part from clients who just aren’t a good fit / resonance. Work wouldn’t be productive or effective with them, and they are also set free to find a better match.
    It’s also been a good personal practice to not take it personally. 🙂 Rejection / guilt / integrity themes are always interesting to process.
    I find it helpful to take a ‘high road’ perspective:
    Is this apparent mismatch scenario bringing out themes I / they / we are needing to work out here, or is it simply not working? Almost like in any other relationship….
    Astrology itself (which I work with) is a wonderful tool to zoom into the heart of the matter.

    Thanks again, for another thought / spirit provoking video.

  35. Jeff,
    It is always a great time to learn because you always provide good stuff with great value. I have never fire any client yet but I surely agree with that there will always be someone who is juts not nice at to work with at all. Remain a relationship or doing business with people like this is just a nightmare for everyone. So, when it is time to say goodbye , then it is a goodbye.

  36. Are there any good rules of thumb when it comes to firing clients? At what point do you consider enough is enough? How many clients have you had to fire over the journey of PLF? I really like how you relate it back to the energy that people have and keeping our confidence high – that is so much more valuable and important than one client who is causing pain and suffering.

  37. I call these type of clients/ people: energy vampires…they strive in attention, negativity and feed on other people’e energy field.
    5 years ago I asked Spirit to send me only clients willing to remember their power ( name of my business) and as a result, 99% of my clients are just so committed and willing and eager to transform that their results are extra-ordinary!
    Every now and then I get a potential client who is an energy sucker and I just give 5 mms of my time on the phone, knowing that my offer is way beyond what they are willing to pay or do or go through and they naturally fade away…
    Another aspect is that sometimes, when business slows down, I have to remind myself why I only work with committed respectful clients…Great sharing Jeff!

  38. this was so helpful! i couldn’t agree with you more about keeping our confidence high.

    two things have driven my decision process in these first few years, fear and failure. the fear of not meeting a clients expectations and feeling like i had to take any and every project that came along, because that would keep the business from failing. the truth is, being a business owner is really hard and it requires you to trust yourself and what you have to offer. i recently purchased sprinkle cupcakes for my family and was a little surprised by the price… $42 for a dozen cupcakes. then i thought to myself, i bought them, other people are buying them. sprinkle’s founder decided a dozen of her cupcakes cost $42, if you don’t wanna pay it go somewhere else. in that moment i realized she set a value for herself and look where that took her.

    knowing you can fire a client, taking that control in your business is so empowering. i think it goes hand in hand with establishing and trusting your worth. its amazing how once you start to put yourself out there and open yourself up to the experience how things start to come together.

    jeff i love your videos, they are so engaging and approachable.

  39. This is a funny video. Oddly enough Jeff, I had to let go a client that was one of your students, as well as one of your good friend’s, Brendon Burchard, because after two years of working together, and after, at least one year of going through premium content and guidance like yours and Brendon’s, this person just didn’t get it. I would regurgitate the prime content in various different ways, to help him understand and implement, but he inevitably suffered from – to use his own term – “Analysis Paralysis”. Many would refer to it as being a lifetime student. There is nothing wrong with that, but if someone is trying to make money with a product or service, they eventually need to become a teacher as well.

    The lesson I learned from this experience is that ACTION is the best path to success. We can question the possible results endlessly. We can wonder if people will listen to our message. But we will never know, until we actually take ACTION and THEN analyze the results. I have a simple riddle for all of you:

    “There were two frogs sitting on a log…one made a decision to jump off…how many frogs were left on the log?”

  40. I really resonate with the part you shared by Dan Sullivan, that being an entrepreneur is all about protecting your confidence, Amen. And the part about getting customer service off your plate…I agree, Betty is fantastic. 😉

  41. Laurence Hansen

    Reply

    No doubt. A bad client is like a boat anchor. Good for holding you in place. Not good for progressing in life and business.

  42. So many of us were brought up with the mindset that the “customer is always right!” How many times has that been drilled into us? Or the “whatever it takes” mantra. Finding clients you want to be a hero to, trusting your worth, protecting your confidence all bespeak of a new generation of redirected values away from the almighty dollar. I love the idea of not voluntarily enslaving our bodies and spirit to abusive behavior in the pursuit of money. What a great paradigm shift we see evolving in how business is done. Thanks Jeff for leading the way on this!

  43. Caroline Cooper

    Reply

    Hi Jeff
    I help businesses with their customer service and managing their overall customer experience so this and your last video really struck a cord. Thank you. Love all your other videos too, of course, but the gates of awesomeness and recruit someone to take care of your customers’ care are such great learning points for any business, and I’m sure I’ll be quoting you over the next few weeks!

  44. Barbara Kabus

    Reply

    Perfect timing… I decided several weeks ago to “fire” a long time student of mine and was going to drop the news to her today after much procrastinating. This gave me the push I needed and provided a great perspective on how this kind of action can be beneficial to all involved. I really like your comment about being powered by choosing our clients. In the long run by releasing a negative relationship, a flow of positive energy will fill the space- this I do know and teach in my practice. But taking responsibility for who we bring into our lives and handling relationships w integrity is really the test here. Thanks for putting this into a business perspective as a customer service issue! Helped me today!

  45. Thanks for this advice, Jeff. I am contemplating this issue now as I am to renew a contract with a client. I have never heard anything good from this client and he on;y communicates when he does not like the way things are going on. But never a word when when things are going well. I do not feel motivated to work with him at all. I guess that is a sign I should fire the client.

  46. I totally agree with you Jeff. I sell on part time on eBay and I may have some customers every once in a while give me the business so if we can’t make it right I just give them their money back and have them keep the product. I’m paying them to leave me alone.

  47. LOL great topic! I also find that sometimes it is necessary to fire clients when they are not listening and following along the path. Sometimes they need a wake up call to get themselves back on track. Either they will do that and want to come back and work with you and if they don’t, then it is best to part ways. Never be afraid to fire a client – they aren’t worth the headache!

  48. Such Great Advice!! And your timing is perfect. I will be putting your suggestion into action this week. Very glad you took the time to speak on this. The value you bring is through the roof.

  49. Jeff, thank you so much for your insight once again! I have already put your suggestion to work prior to watching this video. I cannot tell you how exactly on the money you are…in every sense of those words. I did not care. I simply refused to do business with them any longer and better clients came along. Thanks for all you do and sharing your success formula with us!

  50. Excellent. Love this approach both protecting confidence and empowering your team!

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